For Catholics, the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public ceremony in which one gives oneself totally to another person for life. It is also a public statement about God being present in human love and commitment - the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.
What is Marriage?
Traditionally people have thought of marriage as a legal contract. On one level, it is, but there are some essential differences. Unlike other legal contracts, the marriage contract is based on love. Marriage differs from a legal contract in that it is an open-ended contract, "for better, for worse." In marriage you make an unconditional promise, not knowing where the promise will lead, what the promise will entail. The unconditional promise is the essence of Catholic marriage.
Sacramental marriage ensures the lifelong presence of God available to those couples who pledge themselves to fidelity, growth and service. As they continually reaffirm their "yes" to each other, they acknowledge, draw upon and witness to the power and presence of Christ in their lives. 'Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst'.
The promise is made by the bride and groom, who believe in Christ's word and in the kind of love he reveals. The Church witnesses and affirms their promise. The Church teaches in the words of Christ that 'Those whom God has united, man must not put asunder; Christian marriage is indissoluble.
The Church's understanding of marriage, after reflection on God's word, can be summed up in this way:
Marriage, as a Christian sacrament, is a lifelong and faithful union of a man and a woman mutually committed to sharing their life and love together. Modeled after and strengthened by God's own love for his people, it's an intimate partnership in which each person gives the other freedom to grow and which is directed toward bearing fruit; fruit in perhaps the bearing of children, but also fruit in the mutual support and love which two people bring to each other.
Book the Church
To book a marriage in the Cathedral of St Mary & St Anne, contact the presbytery office to ensure the church is available on your date of choice. Please note that weddings are not allowed on Sundays or Holydays (March 17th, August 15th, December 8th, November 1st & 2nd or during Holy Week)
Choose a Celebrant
Invite a priest of you choice to officiate at your wedding & ensure he is available on your date of choice. Make an appointment to visit a priest of the parish in which you are actually living, who will advise you of the requirements for marrying in a Catholic church. The priest will help you to prepare for the sacrament of marriage and ensure that you are both aware of the responsibilities and commitments you are undertaking. You must give at least three months notice of your intention to marry to the priest.
Your priest will advise you of pre-marriage courses available. Courses are run by:
Tel: 021 4275678
Pre-marriage courses take place in the Cathedral Parish generally twice a year at Eason’s Hill Community Centre
Bookings can be made by contacting the presbytery office.
- Certificate of baptism issued within six months of the wedding
- Certificate of Confirmation
- Letters of freedom: i.e. statements that there is no record of your having been married already, from any parish you have resided in for over 6 months
- A pre-nuptial enquiry form, which you must complete with a priest of your parish.
Preparing for the Ceremony
The priest will advise you the marriage rite and help you with your plans for the ceremony. If a booklet is being prepared, he will help with layout & choices.
Music plays a huge part in contributing to the spiritual & festive nature of the occasion, and care should be taken when choosing hymns and instrumental music. In particular a soloist/cantor should be encouraged to sing part of the mass itself (responsorial psalm, memorial acclamation, great amen, holy holy etc), rather that just at the offertory and communion time. Couples are free to invite musicians of their own choice to play/sing at their wedding. If the main organ is required, however, Joe Higgins, the Cathedral's organist should be consulted or involved. (Tel: 4546696). Only music which is sacred in nature may be used at the celebration of your sacrament in the Cathedral. A list of music to be sung/played at your wedding should be checked for suitability with the celebrant. (It is important to note that when a wedding is celebrated in a Registry Office, spiritual music is prohibited in order to stress the secular nature of that ceremony.)
Signing of the Register
In the Cathedral, the register is signed after the ceremony in the Sacristy.
The Wedding Ceremony
The booklet "Celebration of Marriage" available from Veritas, contains many choices of prayers, exchange of promises etc for a wedding ceremony. The publication "Readings for your Wedding" contains a selection of suitable readings.
A voluntary offering is given to the celebrant. There is no set fee, however if he has been involved in the pre-nuptial enquiry, preparation of the ceremony, rehearsal or has travelling expenses a fee of at least €150 upwards is appropriate. This should be balanced against the payments made to other professionals involved in your wedding. The sacristan of the Cathedral will have assisted in the rehearsal, setting up the altar etc. A suitable donation of €50 or so should be considered.
Flowers add beauty and dignity to the place of celebration when used with taste & moderation. Couples are encouraged to avoid unnecessary expense & extravagance. It is recommended that not more than three discreet arrangements be placed in the altar area. Nothing may be placed on the altar itself. If swags are placed at the end of seats, drawing pins, sellotape bluetak etc cannot be used. Arches, if used, may only be used in the porch/door area. Couples are free to use their own florists for their wedding.
Videos & Photography
Please ensure that the taking of photographs or videos does not become obtrusive. Dignity & respect for the Blessed Sacrament can be destroyed when too much time is spent on photos in the church after the ceremony.
Your priest will inform you of all the requirements, civil as well as religious. However, it is a good idea to check the requirements of the civil law yourself. Contact the General Register Office, 8-11 Lombard Street East, Dublin 2 Tel 01 635 4000 or visit their website for further information www.groireland.ie
From November 5, 2007 there are new civil requirements for Catholic Marriages. Visit the Registrar's Office, Adelaide Street, Cork, at least three months before the date of the wedding. You will be required to bring the following:
- Photo identity (passport or driving licence ideally)
- Names & dates of birth of witnesses who will be signing the register
- Name of the church where you are to be married
- Date of marriage
- Name of the solemniser (priest or deacon who will officiate at the marriage - this presumes that the celebrant is a registered solemniser and that he has agreed officiate at the marriage)
- If either party has been previously married you must provide the civil registrar with an original divorce decree or death certificate if widowed.
When all the civil requirements have been completed satisfactorily, you will receive from the registrar a Marriage Registration Form (MRF). Without this document the couple cannot get married nor may the solemniser proceed with the marriage ceremony. You must present the MRF to the solemniser before the wedding so he can ensure all details are correct.
Verbal declaration of absence of civil impediment
This declaration should be made not more than two days before the wedding in the presence of the two witnesses & the solemniser. It is recommended practice that this declaration be made at the beginning of the wedding ceremony, when the bride & groom arrive in the sanctuary. The priest (solemniser) will ask the bride & groom: "Do you declare that you do not know of any civil impediment to the marriage you are about to enter in to with ........?"
After the marriage has been celebrated, it is the responsibility of the couple (not the priest or solemniser) to return the MRF to the Registrar’s Office.
*Important: The form must be returned within one month of the marriage.
• Meet one of the local parish clergy
• Book the church where they wish to marry
• Meet a civil registrar at least 3 months before the wedding to give notice of their intention to marry
• Obtain the Marriage Registration Form (MRF) from the civil registrar
• Bring the MRF to the solemniser
• Make the verbal declaration of no civil impediment not more than 2 days before the wedding
• Return the signed MRF to any civil registrar not later than 1 month after the wedding
A Marriage Preparation Course will equip you with skills and qualities that will help you through married life. You will meet other couples and will be able to discuss issues that are common to you all. All this will take place in an atmosphere that is open & encouraging. Courses are delivered by facilitators who are married themselves & generally share their own experiences.
Marriage Preparation courses usually explore self-awareness, commitment, conflict resolution, communication skills, church and children. Communication is perhaps the most important thing of all. A couple who have an open, honest way of communicating with each other are less likely to find conflict resolution a problem. Sharing your lives will require flexibility and compromise.
The courses allows special time together as a couple away from the many other distractions of wedding planning, to concentrate on themselves and their relationship. It is an opportunity to speak openly about issues they had not previously thought of or had even being avoiding.
Participants on courses might be encouraged to reflect upon the actual formula of consent in the marriage ceremony. "I take you as my husband/wife, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, all the days of my life. Marriage is often for the better, for richer and experienced in good health. But at times it is for worse, it can lead to financial struggles and it will have to endure sickness. Those who intend to set out on this journey should have some sense that their commitment will be tested throughout married life.
Preparing as well as possible should definitely be a priority for any couple contemplating marriage.